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Pennsylvania Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Pennsylvania Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Plaintiff

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Defendant

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
Court of Common Pleas, ___________ County, Pennsylvania

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Pennsylvania. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.pachildsupport.com/

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Complaint for Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Pennsylvania Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Decree of Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Pennsylvania Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
County Clerk’s Office of the Court of Common Pleas

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

The spouses may enter into a binding separation agreement if it is made on reasonable terms. There is no residency requirement specified by statute. [Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated; Title 23, Section 3301].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Pennsylvania law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.